Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Forage and Harvest Book

The end of 2016 brought some happy negotiations with a publishing company I have long admired. When a senior editor there asked me over the phone, Vermont to Cape Town, "Why Chelsea Green?" my answer was simple: "Integrity."

Because it matters more than ever. 

Chelsea Green has a reputation for producing books on subjects ahead of the curve, and are firmly on the appropriate side of important environmental and political issues.

Back home in Brooklyn recently, a contract arrived. I celebrated by sprinkling it with agathosma* salt and dried mugwort. For luck, of course. 

* Agathosma from my mom's Cape Town garden - very aromatic.

Forage and Harvest is a book for cooks, gardeners, and foragers. It represents years of research: foraging, reading, cooking, eating. And gardening. It will cover over 40 wild foods and contain over 400 recipes. There will be techniques for making simple essentials and kitchen basics like field garlic oil (above).

Wild salad recipes will contain feral and domestic ingredients. In some cases I will make horticultural arguments (with cultivation tips) for taming wild ingredients: they are excellent vegetables and fruits, and sometimes borderline in terms of sustainability. And not everyone can get out and forage. We should be growing them, both for our own consumption, and for market.

There will be many one-pot wonders, it's how I often cook at home, like this pokeweed ribolitta, above. There will also be soups and side dishes and stews, risottos and roasts, and lots of ideas for breakfast. I like breakfast.

Breads and syrups and jams and muffins will march through the pages, like this spicebush bread with black cherry syrup.

There will be cake. With foraged mahlab, from black cherries.

There will be meaty and hearty main courses, like these bayberry meatballs with sumac.

There will be fire.

And there will be esoteric and fragrant vinegars and ferments made with highly seasonal edible flowers, like black locust.

...and the ever popular and wildly fizzy elderflower cordial.

With just a few weeks before spring arrives, I am furiously transcribing recipes from a small mountain of Moleskine notebooks so that I can be ready to gather, photograph and test when foraging season begins. Friends have offered help from their own tracts of wild land, while many of my edible weeds will be sourced locally from community farms and forgotten wild places.

Forage and Harvest will be published in spring of 2018.


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